As a planner and goal-setter in all aspects of my life, including art creation and marketing, I’m afraid I may overdo it. I fear that too much planning and scheduling may leave one blind to those serendipitous opportunities that could enhance creativity, not to mention joy of living. But without a vision and goals for the year, I fear I might not get off the couch. What’s an artist to do? I checked in with other artists to get a sense of their planning/visioning practices and perhaps a few specific goals. Here they are, in no particular order.
Willamarie Huelskamp Yes, I do set goals for myself, my artwork for the coming year. Never have I actualized these, but I am striving towards them. Last week I was so lucky to spend time with the work of Chagall in the NYC Jewish Museum. I am so inspired, in the coming year to make the commitment to continue to make my art from a deeper and more personal place. So that it is my very heart which is making my art.
Abbi’s Brush Goals get in the way of my vision. For me it is about observing, being present to beauty and open to the mystery that is a gift as I apply paint to canvas. I have to commit to the process, but my paintings if they are any ‘good’ are always an unexpected surprise.
Toni Youngblood I keep record in the form of images (including sketch studies relating to ideas I have for future artworks), as well as lists of ideas. If I have a show or other deadline, I make a time “budget” for myself to be sure I keep on track to meet deadlines and I include buffers into the timeline to allow for “unforeseen” events, when possible.|1| I discovered the importance of this also in my practice of architecture beginning while I was still in school. I don’t feel this process takes the life or spontaneity out of the art work, because I am a firm believer in what Chuck Close describes thusly:
Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will — through work —bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art [idea].’ And the belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you [did] today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere.
Sherry Meidell I have goals that I’m always working towards. I don’t figure them out at the beginning of the new year. I’m always working towards something and trying to improve how I paint. When I reach one goal I see something else out there ahead of me.|2|
Jerry Hardesty I set my 2014 goals in mid-November. I want a running start for the new year. I keep them in a three ring binder along with a spreadsheet of my accomplishments and my evolving artist statement.|3|
Janell James I tend to buy myself new art books to put under the Christmas tree, on artists who inspire me, or evoke a longing in my soul, that make me want to paint. This year I purchased George Iness and The Science of Landscape, Frederick Church and the Landscape Oil Sketch, and Intimate Vistas: The Poetic Landscapes of William Langson Lathrop (suggested to me by my friend Brandon Cook). I feel myself being pulled to create work more along the lines of tonal Impressionism. I want to paint landscapes that are more about light, and evoke a deeper core feeling from within.|4|
Anne Lloyd Becker As a busy mom, who works part time, I absolutely have to set goals. They can seem overwhelming, but if I am persistent, and break them down into small, manageable, chunks, I can accomplish them.
Tom Howard My goals for the coming year include a set number of paintings to produce, and a venue I haven’t tried before. Just a couple of things that will help me reach a little further than I have in the past. It’s good for one’s own sense of purpose.
L. Aerin Collett My goal is to have three galleries by the end of the year and to be making a profit sustainable to live on without the help of an outside job. Artistically my goal is to not stay comfortable for too long but to breach my boundaries and add invention.
Gene Klatt My hope is to take all the advice and teachings from workshops and classes, bring it inside, make it part of who I am as an artist and finally, find it reflected in my work.|5|
Kay Hale I have set some goals to get my online presence dealt with, updated and such. But paintings and art work are a whole other thing. Every morning I lie in bed, in spite of the urgings of pets to get up, and think, think think about what art I want to do. For me, I have discovered that I spend more time thinking than doing…but when I do, I do quickly, without much hesitation or introspection. I find that I allow the materials to help me move along. I am more willing to let things happen. I have thoughts about what I want to accomplish but I can say that it never turns out the way I first envisioned. I cannot get trapped by my ideas and make them too precious. I can only let the art happen as it goes along. I used to think I needed to tighten up my way of doing things…but it created too much worry. Now I do a lot of daydreaming. It is my productive happy time. I also am able to solve art and design problems during those inactive times. I am currently happily anticipating the delivery of my first gelli plate. I have already decided the practical how to’s by my thinking ahead. I love printmaking and this will give me an affordable means of monoprinting. And knowing myself I am sure it will turn into a series, lots of layers and bright colors.|6|
Susette Gertsch Most major ideas appear in the early hours of the day. I sit in bed and ponder what I “know” and simply play with what “might be,” then I write it out (good process from the Artist’s Way). As a result, the door is (literally) opening for me to enjoy a home-based “Open Studio/gallery” for the first time. It’s an entirely new venue for my paintings. It’s meant using considerable resources to finish a section of my home, but the location is great and the “vision” of having people from my community, plus visitors from the two nearby resorts “come to me,” is very appealing.|7|
Mark Slusser In the coming year, I have a goal to complete three different series of paintings… large narrative pieces with figures, trompe l’oeil paintings involving alcohol, and urban landscapes.|8|
Karen Horne I do like to take a general overview of the work, and see how I’d like to project it into the coming year. Last year I had a few objectives: 1. Since I often work large, try a series in a small format. This led to a 12×12 figure in the garden series. 2. Do more live model and portrait sessions in pastel to keep my skills sharp. 3. Translate some of the airiness of the dancer pastels into dancer oils. I will continue to work on these three goals through 2014.|9|
Sandy Brunvand I end the year by considering the new year ahead. I usually have broad goals for each year. They are generally much the same every year. I strive to create balance between my three major facets of life, making my art, teaching full time, and the other category, which includes, family, hiking and playing as much music as possible! My goal for my art practice is to have at least one solo show a year with ALL new work, then utilize those new pieces later in local, national and international group shows. My goal for teaching is to foster new sparks of creativity in students. My final goal is overlapping family time with hiking and/or music! All of this leads to a very good life that I appreciate immensely.|10|
And how about you? How do you find the balance between goal setting and the freedom to daydream, play and explore? You’re welcome to share your practices or specific goals/visions in the comments.
Sue Martin holds an M.A. in Theatre and has worked in public relations. As an artist, she works in watercolor, oil, and acrylic to capture Utah landscapes or the beauty of everyday objects in still life.